In keeping with Rutgers’s motto of “Jersey Roots, Global Reach,” Bloustein students had the opportunity to visit the United Nations headquarters in April to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s role in peacekeeping throughout the world.
Arranged by the school’s Office of Student and Academic Services the Division of Global Affairs Rutgers University-Newark (DGA), and the United Nations, about 30 Bloustein graduate students, as well as students from DGA, traveled to UN headquarters in New York City to meet representatives from different divisions across the United Nations. In two conference rooms at the UN Secretariat, the students learned about the UN, discussed these two major UN initiatives, and interacted with the world’s leading intergovernmental body.
The morning session focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 actions that the UN adopted with a goal of ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all humans; the SDGs have specific target metrics they are supposed to reach over the next 15 years. The panel featured Kristinn Helgasson of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sulan Chan of the GEF Small Grants Program, and Vijaya Vaduvelu of the Independent Evaluation Office. This session included discussion on what the SDGs are, their history, and how different countries are supporting them, and moved on to the importance of the UN conducting field work and working on the ground in areas where SDGs were being implemented. The panel ended with an analysis of how the UN was evaluating these projects and questions from the students.
Following lunch, the students returned to discuss the UN’s role in peacekeeping throughout the world. Lt. Col. Dai Qiling of the Department of Peackeeping Operations, Alan Fox of the Independent Evaluation Office, and Bloustein alumnus Frederik Trettin MPAP ’09 of the Office of Internal Oversight Services discussed the military aspect of peacekeeping. Lt. Col. Qiling noted how countries provide troops, how these troops are deployed, and the importance of a military presence in peacekeeping situations. Mr. Trettin talked about the importance of defining peace “keeping” and peace “building; ” he maintained that it is necessary to keep peace before the UN can build and strengthen peace within a struggle. He noted the difficulty the UN faces in maintaining peace in areas of conflict, and spoke about some of the difficulties and failures the UN has faced in various places around the world. The final speaker, Mr. Fox, spoke about how the United Nations Development Program assesses and evaluates their peacekeeping missions.
After a spirited question and answer period the students were given the chance to wind down with the UN officials at a networking session.